“The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament.” (Catechism 1660)
Making Wedding Arrangements
A couple should be married in the parish church of either the bride or the groom. Couples planning to marry are asked to contact a Parish priest six months prior to make arrangements for a wedding.
The Sanctity of Marriage
“The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself. From their covenant arises ‘an institution, confirmed by the divine law, . . . even in the eyes of society.’ The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God’s covenant with man: ‘Authentic married love is caught up into divine love.'” (Catechism 1639)
“Thus the marriage bond has been established by God himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved. This bond, which results from the free human act of the spouses and their consummation of the marriage, is a reality, henceforth irrevocable, and gives rise to a covenant guaranteed by God’s fidelity. The Church does not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom.” (Catechism 1640)
Baptized Catholics are obligated by virtue of their baptism to marry in the Catholic Church. It is permissible for a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic, but because of the Catholic party’s obligation to marry before the Catholic Church, special dispensation must be obtained to marry outside the Catholic Church. This is a relatively simple process which the parish priest will assist you with.
Because the marriage bond is sealed by God himself, thus making it irrevocable, it should not be entered into lightly. It is for this reason that the Church states that divorce does not and cannot dissolve the bonds of marriage (i.e., the sacramental nature of marriage). There is nothing sinful in divorce. In fact, divorced Catholics are able to participate fully in the sacramental life of the Church and receive the sacraments, with the exception of marriage. For a divorced Catholic to marry in the Catholic Church a declaration of nullity must be obtained. A brochure providing details on divorce and annulments in the Catholic Church can be obtained here.
Annulments: Although separated and divorced Catholics who remain single can continue to go to confession and communion, they need to be aware of the care and support the Church wishes to extend to them. Also, Catholics who were previously divorced and have been remarried by a Justice of the Peace or Protestant Minister should seek an annulment so that their present marriage can be blessed by the Church. The Archdiocesan Tribunal is available to help people seeking an annulment. Call 215-587-3750.
Retrouvaille is a program that helps couples in hurting marriages put the pieces back together and rebuild loving relationships. If your marriage is tearing the two of you apart, if there is little or no meaningful communication, Retrouvaille may be able to help you. For more information, call 1-800-470-2230.
Separated and Divorced Catholics support programs are held throughout the archdiocese. To receive a listing of locations, call the Family Life Office at 215-587-5639.